Thursday, March 29, 2007

Civilization begins in the library.

I wrote the following short article for the library where I work.

One of the teachings of Zoroaster states that “He who cultivates grain, cultivates civilization.” This statement is exactly aimed at the center of our mind to make us ponder a lot. Planting grain in the ancient Middle East also initiated the foundations of civilization that ours is based on.

What is the foundation of our future civilizations? The late professor Hogan of Wesleyan University had said in one of his interviews that the “Civilization begins in with library.”
I am of the opinion that Trinity Library Outreach is doing just that by inviting 5th graders to our library. There are a lot of merits in introducing the college library to young kids: they will see a trove of books; they will observe students concentrated on reading a book; they will see people coming into and going out the library; they will see people with their lap tops doing all sorts of fascinating stuff.

The day of visit to the college library will certainly mark their young mind toward colleges and studies positively. When they go home they will talk to their parents or relatives about visiting Trinity College Library. This field trip is different than other field trips; this is about their future provided that they pursue further studies. This trip is different in that the library has demonstrated to them that it is at the heart of the civilization, and this is the place to open the door to the universe of knowledge. They will certainly relate this trip to Jefferson’ saying “I cannot live without books!”

I wish more power to the organizer(s) to having made this possible for the young readers as a part of the outreach to community and the world.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Images that haunt me all the time!

My professor of technology class posed an intriguing question and asked us to write our thoughts about images that stayed with us. There similar questions such as the “best 100 movies” or the “most influential philosopher of the millennium” on the BBC Web site some time ago, etc. Then there are pictures depicting the beauty such as Marlene Dietrich in the movie Casablanca. I have never thought of the pictures capturing my mind. Yet I did think about pictures that have had an interesting background or historical importance. For example, one of them is that Stalin is with Lenin during the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Trotsky is missing on picture because Stalin had it removed to indoctrinate next generations in the Soviet Union without the memory of Trotsky. I think about these pictures in the context so that I relate them to an event or a remarkable moment.
There are images or pictures that depict beautiful moments and scenes. There are thousands of them. These moments captures by photographers have a novelty of a few second. After a few seconds, these moments are replaced by some other beautiful moments. I occasionally get pictures of beauty in attached files sent to me. The recent one was about Dubai and its booming tourism industry. For example, ski slope in a shopping mall or the $10,000 hotel suite per night. These are amazing pictures; nonetheless, they don’t stick to our minds because they are replaced second later by the pictures of the National Geographic.

What about the grim pictures then? I would like present some these grim and gruesome pictures that have haunted me all the time. They are in memory because they show the ugly side of our fellow human. It is about killing or destruction that is captured in a moment of seconds. The first picture is from the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. The picture is from Robert Capa and called “Moment of Death.” It is quite remarkable how R. Capa took such a picture in the death field in a few second; it is mind boggling. The photographer must have gone through a scary moment to take someone’s falling when he got shot. The victim’s position makes one think what he thought about at the moment when he was falling. His gun looks like is also being swirled away like him when he was gunned down as though he were saying to gun “To hell with you!”

(Picture taken by Robert Cappa)

The other picture that I think about all the time is from the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988. On March 16 of that year Iraqi Air Force dropped chemical bombs on the town, killing thousands of people in seconds. On this picture, a father has hugged his child lying on the ground. The fatherly love could not protect that child. No matter what the father did, his effort to save his child from poison gas was in vain. He might have had protected his child from other dangers but not from air born poison agents. One would think that the father could have lived if he had escaped without his infant child. No…he tries to save the baby but stays and dies with him or her.

(Halabja: March 1988)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Happy New Year!

It was pretty nippy yesterday when I left work. I love cold weather—snow, wind and brisk air. I occasionally tease my dear colleagues at work about their softness and complaints regarding beautiful New England winters. I felt the cold inside me yesterday. I have had of this brute and chilly wind. I reminded myself of my dichotomy. Do I love cold weather? Yes, I do … but what is this whimsical attitude. I pontificated about it for sometime and came to the comforting conclusion that it is the boundary between winter and Spring I have had enough of.
Having in mind that we will have a cold day at work, I really bundled myself to embrace the weather early in the morning while leaving for work. As soon as I stepped out, a gentile breeze embraced me. I looked down at the snow; the snow was melting. The sounds of little water paths tingled my mind and made me reminisce on things that I would otherwise not be a guest in your mind. Of course, it is the day before spring; the precursor of March 21st. It is not an accident. The gentile wind is the cutter of winter and spring like a forwarding slash between two words or the sensuality between two lovers.
Tomorrow is March 21st when we Kurds (like other national groups, e.g., Persians, Afghans, etc.) celebrate the arrival of the spring. It is the day when I set up fire and danced hand in hand with women to see the coming of age of spring and summer. It is the day when I sang freedom songs; I reached out my hand to singing youth in South Africa for freedom; It is the day when sang with the Chileans “NO PASARAN.” It is the day when I sang love songs, and it is the day when celebrate tomorrow for freedom and justice! Tomorrow will be the day when my singing will be a part of a new life. It is NEWROZ. New Day!

Monday, March 19, 2007

I am for peace but!

This weekend thousands of people gathered to protest against the war in Iraq. The anti-war demonstrators also protested against the U.S. presence in Iraq and an immediate withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Iraq. All of these are noble demands; I do support these demands by heart and agree, in general, with them against any invasion or occupation. One would be insane if without any reason to support an occupation or invasion that usually bring destruction and thus problems.
What made me to support the invasion of Iraq? First of all I am of Kurdish origin. Being Kurdish and being oppressed mean the removal of the dictatorships in the Middle East would be welcomed. It is quite destructive to live under regimes that do not know any scruples. The brutality of the Middle Eastern regimes is famous. How did the Islamic regime in Iran, for example, executed young female political prisoners? Once they landed in the infamous Evin prison in Tehran, they were first raped by the Revolutionary Guards and then they were executed. I bet one cannot imagine what it means unless lives under such situation. Even hearing such happening is not enough to have empathy because one forgets in busy midst of the day. When it comes to reporting of such tortures, the regimes brushes them away because the Western powers cannot interfere in the domestic problems. In some cases the Western powers do not interfere because there are very lucrative businesses happening between them and these cash producing countries. Of course, France would be interested in selling 30 or 40 Mirage fighter jets to Iran or Iraq (at the time of Saddam) and cash in billion of dollars. Why would they care about “a few” people with bloody noses?
Second, if there is no foreign intervention, then there is no change in the Middle East. The Middle East was carved out during and after WWI. The Middle East has always been a place of occupation and intervention. The intervention begins early on with Greeks, Persians, Arab-Islamic conquests, Mongols, Turks etc. Why is it that people in the Middle East scream out their guts when someone else comes to occupy? If the Americans stay there for some times they will be natives too. Were the Arabs the natives of Kurdistan? They were not. Were the Turks the Natives of Anatolia? No they were not. So it is the time that makes us to forget the events.
Finally, I am for the peace if they let me stay and be in peace. What does it mean? It means I would like them to show my culture respect; let me speak in my language; let me write and read in my mother language. Is this to much to ask?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

March 16

On March 16, 1988 Saddam’s regime dropped chemical weapons on the Kurdish town of Halabja, killing over 5,000 civilian people. This was a final act of his campaign of eradicating Kurds in Iraq. This campaign was called Al-Anfal in Arabic, which means “the Spoils of War.” It is a Sura in the Quran. This campaign lasted from 1986 to 1989. During this campaign the Baath regime in Iraq killed 180,000 Kurds. Many Kurds were deported into Arab part—south—of Iraq to depopulate Kurdistan. The Iraqi Kurds have been fighting the Arab regimes for decades for their autonomy and democracy. The Kurdish fight began in Iraqi-Kurdistan when the Iraq was a mandate of Britain in the 1920s. They revolted many times against the British government. After the British left, the Arabs came to power to govern Iraq. Since the founding of Iraq the Arab regimes have vehemently fought to deny Kurds their rights of self-government.

The Anfal campaign was an eye opening for us Kurds. Countries in the U.N Security Council did not believe such an attack by Saddam on the Kurds and they dismissed it. There was nothing to be done. Saddam was offering all the countries lucrative businesses, e.g., acquiring military hardware from cash greedy military-industrial companies. There was no one to file complaints against because we did not have any power to get countries behind us to do something for injustice. It was like being a homeless person on the street without any protection from hunger, cold, and heat. We will remember those days for ever. We will remember that there was no help when we were attacked with chemicals. We will remember those days when no one came to heal our wounds. Therefore we will not give up what we have achieved in Iraq-Kurdistan. We will be a beacon of freedom in the Middle East.

Click on the link below to view a slide show about Halabja

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What is love?

We all have thought about meaning of the term love and we have perhaps read love poems or love novels. We all love to think of Romeo and Juliet story that make us think about love. Then there are the terms of Time and Space that are beyond our imagination. The combination of all three terms is that we use them in a sentence and try to understand the concept that way. The terms become clearer when we say “There was a time that I fell in love” and also say “That a time came that I fell out of love.” Or how we would convey our emotions to someone else? We would use the term space in a sentence to explain our visceral turmoil and say “I cannot bear it any more,” etc. Here we describe the concept of space to reveal out thoughts and feelings toward someone or even something. How would I bring all this together? Or what is the remedy for all this. We could sing a song or listen to a bird or as the hapless one try to see the revered one. Even once we the revered one, the emotions coming from us cannot fit any physical realm of space. I am certain we can find solace once again in the arms of the loved one. Is this good enough for something we long for—Not at all. The only thing we find peace is the words of the Persian poet Hafiz. Hafiz describes “Love kicks the ass of time and space.”
Would Hafez’s pearls satisfy our emotions all the way? Then again we might seek the truth in everything else but in the Zeilen of a poem? We might try then Rainer M. Rilke. He describes love or passion with a metaphor comparing it with a rose. He longs for the rose, but the rose is so beautiful and fragile that he does not want to touch it. What a dilemma? It is a matter and anti-matter. The concept of the rose is beyond the space and time; it illuminates every corner of space in the heart. But there comes the time that he must touch the rose and thus destroy the space in the heart which seemed to be eternal. Maybe Hafizi’s reign ends here and Rilke start roaming in the space of thought.
Then we ask ourselves what we are going to do now? How shall we go on? At this point we seek the “truth” in Socratic wisdom because we got old and wisdom reigns. We do not want to be responsible and feel the burden of love; we would like to be solitaire and retreat to our own corner. His friends asked Socrates about the merit of being aged. He reply is “I am relieved of the burden of love.” After this point we all seek only one truth—love for the dust (earth) that eventually will satisfy Love, Time and Space of which we know.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My thought on drug usage in the U.S.

Two days I was listening to a report on the NPR. The report was about the visit of President Bush to some of the Latin American countries. The subject matter of the report was, in addition to economic and political issues, also about the problem of drugs from these countries entering the U.S. As it is known that the U.S. spends billion of dollars yearly to fight the production and importation of illegal drugs into the country. The war against the drug import has been going on more than a decade. Nonetheless, the drug usage in the States has not decreased or been solved even though the U.S. government pours billions of dollars into the countries in South America to fight it militarily. The problem will never be solved considering the nature of human beings.

What can be done instead?

I am of the opinion that any kind of drugs should be legalized regardless of the type. We will have the problem no matter it using drugs is legal or illegal. So the problem exits with or without being legal. Now because selling drugs is illegal, there is an under world criminality next to the legal government. The under world does not pay taxes and creates problems of any sort in the society such as killing, kidnapping etc. The governments in the South America are ineffective against fighting the drug cartels. However, these governments are the toys of these cartels. Therefore the democracies are in trouble because of the situation or control of the cartels over the governments.

In the U.S., the society faces a big dilemma because (1) it has to deal with the drug addicts and (2) with the people who sell drugs. The organized crime is very effective in extracting profit from selling drugs. The only way to avert such problems is making drugs legal. Users would buy them from pharmacies. The legal purchase would also help to pay for treatment of the addicts. Nowadays the treatment is based on the money form the government. The government would not have to pay billions of dollars to fight the drug production; yet, it would divert the money to treating people or helping the farmers with other production. Consequently, there would not be any organized crime to import and sell drugs illegally.

My view is now an impossible to be accepted but this is the only to face the reality both economically and socially.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Today is International Women's Day!

I checked the Trinity Exchange and wanted to see something about March 8th. There was nothing specific about today in history and about today in presence. The today I celebrated is for me in the past, too. Will it be in the future—I do not know. I celebrated the today with women on the street and listened to women leaders—unionist, parliament members, etc. On this today, I attended lectures about women to know more about them and their struggle. I knew very well today came from the struggling American women. I knew about their exploitation and their fight for equal rights.

I will not celebrate the today I used to; I do not see any crowd outside my window to join and listen to what they say. Am I detached from the past; perhaps I am. I am perhaps I post-celebratory man. I might be someone who thinks about the past and comes to other conclusions—yes time is the judge as to what we did and what we will do.

And I will not celebrate and say “Happy Women’s Day!” I will think about a few women that I knew and I have heard about. I know a woman whose son got taken away by the military on September 12th 1980. He never returned and since then the woman goes with other similar women to a place in Istanbul to protest her son’s abduction. She is one of the Saturday’s Mothers. I know another woman who visited her son in the military prison of Diyarbekir. She talked in Kurdish to her son in the presence of military personal. The military personal forbade her speak in Kurdish; she was supposed to speak in Turkish, which she did not know. Every time she communicated in Kurdish, her son was flogged in front of her eyes. She would cry whenever she saw me, for I was her son’s equal. I heard about a woman who was asked by the military to choose on of her sons—she had three sons--to be spared. She could not pick anyone of them. She said to the military: “Kill all of them!”

I will not celebrate this today anymore; I will only think about them and bury them in my memories for today—Today is the International Women’s Day!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Having Cold!

I consider myself a luck person as far as my health is concerned. I occasionally catch cold. Other than that my life has been illness free.

Over the weekend I have not been feeling well and getting down with a cold. So far its initial symptoms are “runny nose,” “feeling weak,” and “being angry.” Consequently, I do not want to be bothered by anyone, including my boys whom I love so dearly. But the most difficult part of not feeling well is when one has to study for the next class when there are exam and papers due next week. Do you e-mail your professors about your condition? This is a dilemma! How would you convey the message that you are not feeling well and could not study for the class assignment?

I guess in many cases of such situations one rarely think about missing classes because people do not consider having cold is serious. People often go to work and work at home when they are not feeling well. It is devastating when one gets a cold; however, if one thinks of other illnesses, one is relived for having a lousy cold and nothing else. The thought that it will take only a few days makes one feel better about the beautiful days ahead. By the same token, feeling sick makes one think of other people with serious illnesses. It is this moment that one feels empathy with them. It is remarkable what these people go through!

Having such small colds is sometimes good so that one can be compassionate!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Politics beyond race!

When I came to the U.S.A. in 1988, I was struck by the ethnic differences among the American nation. Every ethnic group is organized in its own organization, i.e., people of the Polish background have their own organization such as the American Polish Home. Or Black Americans are organized in their organizations, etc. I guess this necessitated from the need of helping each other or not accepting other group as their own. Of course, going back to the slavery, one could see the reason why the people of different colors did not trust or hated each other. I was not aware of this fact until I came and see in this country.
It was different in Germany. Germany has also many different ethnic groups such as Kurds, Turks, Greeks, Croatians, Bosnians, Italians, and Albanians etc. Even though people of the various ethnic groups have had their own associations and churches, they were also organized in organizations beyond the ethnic interest. These organizations were German political parties and professional interest organizations, e.g., unions. At a certain point all these ethnic group have had common interest to voice. These common interests were economic and social problems. For example, one of the hottest problems was job market. Such a problem exceeded the ethnic barriers and brought people together in politically different parties, such as Social Democrats, Conservatives, Green Party, and Communist.
Tonight I listened to a report about the gubernatorial elections in Massachusetts in 2006. The new governor of Massachusetts now is an African American. I listened to speech excerpts. It was quite remarkable that he did not stress the racial issues but almost only economic and social issues. Having a woman opponent and being elected as a black governor in Massachusetts is an enormous victory. I then thought about the differences between him and other black leaders such as Al Sharpton. He tried many times to be elected but did not succeed. Looking at the differences, I thought myself that somehow the new black leaders have entered a new and successful era like in Germany.

Friday, March 2, 2007

When it is Friday!

When Fridays come, people are so happy and use the cliché TGIF. I take the opposite position and say “there is always a Monday ahead.” It will be Monday in 48 hours or so. Do I hate Fridays? No! When Fridays come, I feel so empty. I have to go home and start thinking I am going to do this weekend. Perhaps I have to deal with my kids over the weekend and be creative with them because there is nothing else to do.

Fridays are special for some people such as Jews and Moslems. Sundays are special for the Christians. They can get kids be busy with Churches, Mosques, or Synagogues. Consequently half the weekend is filled with low activity. What about me? Since I do not believe in any of the religions, I have to come with some machination to deal with my kids for the whole weekend.

I guess my alibi would be “studying for my classes” over the weekend. So I will visit my friend tomorrow (Saturday) with my kids and declare Sunday for myself to study. Am I going to study at home? No way… I will take off and go to my work—which is my library—and sit across my computer and start evaluating book reviews. This is the well meant intention; yet one never knows whether the plan would establish itself over the weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Being Evaluative!

I have not written for the blog for a few of days; I felt that something was disturbing my mind and conscience. The “threat” was pretty serious since it became bothersome because my professor has said very clearly that we have to write four times a week. Otherwise, the blog would not count toward for a better grade. Since the blog has become a part of the weekly assignment, it really does not matter whether it counts toward my grade or not; I am now used to writing for the blog somewhat regularly.

Today (March 1, 2007), I will write about being evaluative or having skills to evaluate one’s observations in the nature. Every Wednesday I attend a luncheon seminar at the Hillel House at Trinity. Volunteers prepare themselves about certain subjects in the Hebrew Bible and comment on them. For example, the exodus Hebrews from Egypt to Canaan is one of the topics. I admire the intellectual capacity of the people at the lunch table. They must have done this regularly, for they are familiar with the subject matter. They can tell what is wrong the story in the Bible and whether it was possible for Moses to go through the Red Sea without being killed in the water. I would like to stress though that I am not talking about the arguments but about the way arguments and the stories are being evaluated and eventually a conclusion is drawn.

Another evaluation mesmerizes me is the evaluation of book reviews. We happen to write review of book reviews for Dr. Chelton’s class. It is marvelous to see how some book reviewers interweave the contents of the books with their thoughts and put into a short paragraph. It is noticeable the reviewer has a great deal of vocabulary so that s/he can use while writing a book review. In addition, it is interesting that the reviewers can use one sentence to describe a whole drama or go beyond things to characterize things that the reader cannot think of.

Thinking about nature and life, I think an evaluative observant has a grip of life due to his or her skills that the parents have taught while the person was a little child.